India is now facing its own devastating Covid-19 crisis, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to put his economy through another turmoil.
India’s economy could be crushed again regardless.
It starts playing in India’s leather industry.
India is a major global exporter of leather and leather goods. The country is the second largest exporter of leather clothing and the fourth largest exporter of leather goods in the world, according to the Indian Council for Leather Exports (a division of India’s Ministry of Trade and Industry). It is also a major footwear manufacturer after China, producing nearly three billion pairs of shoes annually.
Last year, the pandemic hit India̵
An industry expert who did not want to be identified and is also currently infected with coronavirus said that leather manufacturers have suffered from a cumulative knock-on effect of a prolonged shutdown last year. He is worried that a worsening second wave could bring the industry back again.
Much of this concern is driven by the dynamics of the industry workforce.
“The majority of the workforce is between the ages of 18 and 45 and has not yet been vaccinated,” said Sanjay Leekha, vice president of CLE.
“We trust God now”
Shashi Kashyap is a senior manager at an Indian leather manufacturer, a leather goods manufacturer and exporter based in New Delhi. The 30-year-old family business operates three production facilities in the city, which are currently gripped by a worsening health crisis.
Kashyup said he has Covid, his elderly father is also infected, as are other members of his family.
“We just trust God right now to get us through this,” he said. “There is nowhere to go to be tested, no place in hospitals to be hospitalized. People are dying on the streets.”
While struggling with his personal reality, the company where he works is also in serious trouble.
Indian Leather Manufacturer has more than 500 employees and produces leather goods – jackets, bags, boots, belts, equestrian products – for customers in the USA, Europe and elsewhere.
“We get orders for 5,000 to 10,000 jackets just from a client,” Kashyap said. “We can not name our overseas customers, but they are in the luxury area,” he said.
2020 was a devastating year for the company. “All three of our facilities closed in the first part of the year. Everything stopped, ”he said. Then, as business began to pick up again in the fall, India began to experience a deadly second wave.
“We only operated for two months last year and now we are closed again,” Kashyup said.
Kashyup said it is a situation that is being played all over India’s important leather industry.
“I would say that 50% of the factories in our industry were closed last year,” he said. Kashyup said his company is struggling to hold on to its skilled craftsmen.
“We have to find a way to pay them ourselves in this shutdown, because if we do not, we know they just will not be able to survive. If it is not Covid, it will be because they have no money to live on. “
Raw material stocks are becoming a concern
Some of its owned and licensed brands include Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan and Haggar Clothing Co.
“For accessories, most of our raw material for the production of India (leather) comes from the north and suffers from understandable and significant delays,” said David J. Katz, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer for Randa Apparel & Accessories.
“Our local raw material stocks are becoming a concern as the demand for belts and wallets in the US increases. However, our primary factories, suppliers and new joint ventures in India are in the Chennai region, which has been less affected by the pandemic. “We hope it stays that way. Production has been primarily on schedule. Our deliveries from India have been somewhat delayed due to transport and logistics delays.”